90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Monday, October 17, 2011

Madam I’m Adam? Kid Stuff Says ‘Master Palindromist’

Note: Share your palindromes in the comment section below or email us

Palindromes are words or sentences that read the same backwards and forwards.

And for Barry Duncan, the word puzzles became an obsession.

“I thought in the early 90s, I would have to be hospitalized, because I couldn’t stop reversing things… I couldn’t sleep, I was in bad shape,” he told Here and Now‘s Robin Young.

For Duncan, the problem was he couldn’t quite get the palindromes right.

But after years of practice, he now writes palindromes hundreds of words long on specific subjects and he calls himself a “master palindromist.”

He recently wrote one for a Cambridge, Massachusetts eco-boutique which imagines a conversation on global climate change between Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Ducan says he aims for natural language, and avoids doubling words in the middle, because that calls attention to the fact that it’s a palindrome.

Duncan says he may just be a misfit who imagines that he’ll become a hero, but he still believes that “reversibility is reaching a tipping point, it may lead to other kinds of discoveries.”

A Here & Now Palindrome by Barry Duncan:

90.9 spot set, are noon. No wonder: I were hip. Ante-Gross I’m on. Still, at one, no, we
fade? Robin is to host (so hot!). Sin: I bored a few, one, not all. (It’s no miss, or get nap.)
I. Here. Wired. Now. On. No one rates, tops 90.9.

Copyright © 2011 By Barry Duncan

More Palindrome Examples:

Mark Saltveit of the Palindromist Magazine shared the following palindromes.

“Lapses? Order red roses, pal.” -by Jim Beloff

Saltveit also shared his version of “Mary Had A Little Lamb. He writes: I reveal “the previously unknown names of Mary’s lamb (Sid) and her school (Del Mar Elementary.) Thanks to Douglas Fink who came up with the title. In my version, each individual line is a separate palindrome.

Mary’s Sassy Ram, by Mark Saltveit
Mary, babe, had a he-baby ram,
Niece-elf; no hue, uh, on fleece. In
every task, sad is Mary; as I say, ram Sid (ask satyr Eve!)
too sallied in (snide, ill, a-soot.)

Mary’s sassy ram, on! “Lo, ho, class — alcohol?” No, Mary’s sassy ram!!
“On I blast, cadet Al – O, I’ve violated acts!” Albino
ram led pupils to hot slip-up – Del Mar
campus tot-delirial! “A gala! I riled tots up, Mac.”


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Voltmer

    Was Barry Duncan’s Here & Now palindrome really a palindrome? It began with “90.9 …” and ended with “… 90.9″ the period is not placed palindromically within the phrase. To be a proper palindrome the ending should have read “… 9.09″

    • Freddy22

      not true.  with all palindromes, punctuation is tossed out the window.

      • Bbhattac

        The dot in 90.9 is NOT a punctuation, it is a decimal point. Anyway, the palindrome seems too artificial and didn’t have any beauty as far as I was concerned. I think it is the quality and not quantity (length) that is more important.

        • http://www.palindromist.org Mark Saltveit

          Here’s a palindrome for the host:  “Young, Robin — a nib, or gnu. Oy!”

  • Guest

    My favorite palindrome:  “Sit on a potato pan, Otis.”

  • TJ

    Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog.

  • http://www.edgartownnews.blogspot.com Sara Piazza

    I love palindromes. One of my favorites: “If I had a hi-fi” (lamented the fiddler on the roof with a broken fiddle). Then there’s: A man, a plan, a canal: panama.

    What I want to know is, how do you make them? They seem quite ingenius to me.

  • Karen Knox

    Where is Professor Otto R. Osseforp when you need him?

  • http://twitter.com/Gruvalicious Shannon

    I make up my own as a hobby. Eva Worcim’s Microwave, Evil Doctors Rot Cod – Live! Abe Omana’s Evil Olive’s An Amoeba, Gnu Dung, Snap Rad Eco Cedar Pans.
    I keep a list of “fulcrums” – they are usually palindrome words, or palindrome phrases (like “Kramer’s Remark”, or “deified”) that are always in the center of the palindrome, plus a list of “perimeters” – mirrored words (Stop/Pots, Some/Demo), then start writing! It can really turn into an addiction, as Barry Duncan discovered…

  • Lorenzo De Leon

    My favorite palindrome in the whole world is my daughter: Noele DeLeon.

  • Fluxbuggers3

    Maybe Barry should check out http://www.evillydinedragons.com

  • J Heath

    The second 90.9 in Barry Duncan’s palindrome seems slightly off; shouldn’t it read 9.09? 

    • msalt

      Only the letters have to be the same backwards – you’re allowed to change punctuation and spacing, or have them only on one side, as you like.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

July 25 Comment

Ebola Epidemic Strikes Top Health Worker

NPR's Jason Beaubien just returned from Sierra Leone, which along with Guinea and Liberia is suffering from the worst ever Ebola outbreak.

July 25 Comment

ER Physician Documents ‘Lost Underground’ Of WWI

Soldiers carved artwork into the walls of vast quarry systems beneath the trenches that defined the war.

July 24 7 Comments

Veterans Say Suicide Is Their Top Concern

That's according to a survey released today by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

July 24 6 Comments

Modern-Day Amelia Earhart Circumnavigates The Globe

The famous pilot's namesake has became the youngest woman to fly a single-engine aircraft around the world.